All 20 of the best actor and best supporting actor nominees are white, with Margot Robbie and Scarlett Johansson even afforded two nominations apiece. By our count, across BAFTA’s 160+ total nominees, there are fewer than five black nominees and only a handful of Asian nominees.
It didn’t take long for the social media axes to grind. A few minutes in fact.
Shortly after the BAFTA nominations were announced, the Twitter hashtag awards organizers dread began to take hold: #Baftassowhite.
A number of film critics adopted the tag, citing movies such as Parasite, Pain And Glory, The Farewell, Hustlers, Harriet, Us and Clemency as movies whose stars were worthy of more attention.
Blinded By The Light writer Sarfraz Manzoor also waded in,
Parasite, Pain And Glory and The Farewell did score nominations in other categories it should be noted, and three of the five actors in the Rising Star category are not white. Also, female Syrian director Waad al-Kateab and Korean auteur Bong Joon Ho are the most nominated individuals this year with four nods each.
While the UK’s non-white population is proportionally smaller than that of the U.S., ethnic minorities are still under-represented among this year’s BAFTA nominees. Ethnic minorities make up between 14-20% of the UK population, according to latest statistics. That number rises to more than 30% in the U.S. The large number of U.S. nominees at the BAFTAs should in theory help improve diversity, but it doesn’t.
This isn’t BAFTA’s fault per se. It speaks to a wider industry problem. It highlights the ongoing and mighty challenge people of color face across the board to break into the industry mainstream.
Despite years of industry self-analysis, schemes and tweaked membership structures, the UK’s biggest film awards remains an overwhelmingly white affair and so do the upper echelons of the industry as a whole.
BAFTA officials acknowledged the frustration this morning, saying, “We would have liked to see more diversity in the nominations, but it continues to be an industry-wide issue and we will keep working on our initiatives.”